The Puente Hills Preserve has several popular and rather attractive paths – and it’s a site I highly recommend exploring, especially if you’ve missed this region in favor of the San Gabriel or Santa Monica Mountains on your hunt for Los Angeles area hiking. But, of all the trails I’ve done so far, this one in the Hacienda Hills stands out. Not only is it one of the few places in the system where hikers can enjoy trails set aside just for them, but unlike nearby trailheads for Worsham and Turnbull Canyons, this trailhead has plenty of parking, water, and restrooms, as well as a very nice section that’s fully accessible (along with accessible parking!).
This trail begins immediately outside Orange Grove Middle School in Hacienda Heights, an unincorporated region of Los Angeles County that is home to North America’s largest Buddhist temple and the northern slopes of the Puente / Hacienda Hills. There is a tiny parking lot at the trailhead, as well as a big parking lot on 7th Avenue, next to the Middle School’s playing fields.
The mixed-use trail climbs gently after passing through a wrought-iron gate (with a bathroom and water fountain). The Habitat Preservation Authority has done an excellent job of re-landscaping the side of this ancient road with native plants and bioswales, which cleanse runoff and help preserve precipitation in the region’s aquifers rather than dumping it all into the Pacific Ocean. This section of route is brimming with blooming sages, California poppies, and goldfields in the spring. Young sycamores and native oaks should provide even more shade and a more pleasant welcome to the area for future walkers.
This trail quickly ascends the north side of the Hacienda Hills. Fortunately, the trail is reasonably shaded here, and on clear days, there are some absolutely stunning vistas of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north.
You’ll also be able to glimpse the remains of the Puente Hills Landfill to your west through clearings. The Puente Hills Landfill, the largest landfill in the United States, has been closed since 2013, however the Puente Hills Landfill Native Habitat Preservation Authority is still in charge of the region’s network of parks and green areas. The Authority is actively restoring and protecting native habitats while also adding more land to its system, including a planned park that would eventually occupy the former landfill area.
On hot days, the tree shade on this portion of path will come in handy. Check the ground for some gorgeous stretches of native miners’ lettuce – and keep an eye out for poison oak. The shrub / vine thrives on these shady north-facing slopes as well.
CONDITIONS ON THE TRAIL
The trails are in excellent condition and are clearly marked at most junctions. Approximately half of this trip is on multi-use trails, and mountain bikers have carved out some considerable use paths on sections of the Native Oak Trail. You’ll be alright if you stay on the main road. All trails in the Puente Hills Preserve are closed for 48 hours after rain.
Take the 7th Avenue exit off the Pomona Freeway (CA-60) and head south. The trailhead is located at the intersection of 7th Avenue and Orange Grove Avenue. There is limited parking at the trailhead (including handicapped spaces), but there is plenty of parking on 7th Avenue immediately north of the trailhead, near the Orange Grove Middle School’s outdoor space.
Next Point of Interest: Pathfinder Community Regional Park